The last ten working days in Japan were such a blur. We had 3 camps in a row, with one day off between the 2nd and 3rd camps, which was consumed with train and bus travels, so all in all, we worked ten days straight. On August 11, we left our home base of Global Arena for good. From August 11-14, I was in Nagasaki. August 14-17, I was with my 2nd host family, and then August 17-27, we had camps.
Killing time in the photo booths while waiting to board our train
Our team was split up into three different camps; I placed with the group who went to the city of Takamatsu, which is actually on another island (Shikoku). To get there, we took the bullet train and then a bus. This camp ended up being really awesome because it was at a really nice hotel! (and there was internet!) Rachel and I shared a room. Our camp consisted of elementary kids, so the activities were different than what I was used to. We played a lot of games and did a lot of whole group activities. These kids were between the ages of 6-17 (but mostly from 6-10) and were all by themselves with no parents and teachers. Only a JTB member was present. Of course when you put four 6-7 year-olds in their own hotel room, you are asking for some trouble. At 4:45 am the first night, I was awoken by the pitter pattering of little boys’ feet and screaming voices. I stagger into the hall with Rachel to see 3 of our campers running. One of the boys’ exact words to me was, “Dontcha know, I don’t sleep!” I looked at him, still half asleep myself, and said, “Oh, yes, you do,” and proceeded to put all of them back to bed. None of them slept that night and needless to say there was a huge battle the next day as most of the kids struggled to keep their eyes open (though this is a common problem during most camps). Overall I had a fun camp and it was fun to work with younger kids for a change (most of my campers this summer have been junior high school students).
Our sweet ride.
Anna and me before bath time!
After 3 days in Takamatsu we boarded another bullet train and headed to Hiroshima! I was so stoked to be in Hiroshima but unfortunately we didn’t have time for sightseeing. Another third of our team joined us at this camp, as it was a larger number of campers. This facility was in the city center of Hiroshima and had amazing beds but really gross bathing facilities and even worse food. Luckily right down the hill was a 24-hour grocery store, so I spent about $30 on fruit- which was GONE in 2.5 days because well, I didn’t eat much of the food. The camp went pretty fast though; this was this particular school’s first time doing USA Summer Camp, so we had a lot of pressure on us to make sure the teachers and JTB were impressed (which we were- we had a very successful camp).
My view of Hiroshima
Close to where the bomb hit in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum
After our second camp we had an off day; we found out the night before we left that we had to spend the night at Global Arena. Most of us were not happy, because we were told we were not coming back and therefore had spent the past 2 weeks carrying and traveling with everything we had brought to Japan. Not to mention the journey included a 5+hour bus ride back. However, we got to stay in the “hotel style” dorm rooms (2-3 people per room instead of 15) and we got to eat in the gourmet dining hall (FRUIT, MUFFINS, PANCAKES!!) so we were not too disappointed. However the day went too fast because we were soon on our way to our final camp, which was a 2 hour journey by bus.
This camp had a lot of expectations; I had already done this particular school with the junior high school students so I already had an idea of what to expect; but this was their elementary group and it was even more strict. This particular school is an all-girls private Catholic school; we did not have dance party, American Carnival, etc. because that was too much fun. However we got to do a lot of different activities such as a scavenger hunt and a differently structured My Town; so I had fun. Happily I was a “floater” for this camp, meaning that I did not have my own group but instead helped with a lot of setting up, taking down, transitions between activities, etc. but I was more than happy because I was absolutely exhausted.
Adding up the hours in my head, I have worked over 330+ hours in 7 weeks; I have completed a total of 9 three-day camps. This averages out to about 47 hours per week (woahhh!) it’s totally worth it though, especially after receiving notes like these examples from campers… 🙂